Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay

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Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Hence, segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.”… Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest speakers in all of history wrote these words in his letter from Birmingham Jail (King 48). His great use of rhetoric affected largely the freeing of an entire race. During his work in the Civil Rights Movement, he visited a small town called Birmingham in Alabama, and wrote one of his most rhetorically compelling letters there. In this letter, he used historical evidence, scriptural references, descriptive vocabulary, and great organization of points to respond to grievances raised against his movement: that he should wait, that he was breaking laws, that his peace brought on violence, and that his activities were extreme.

Time will heal all wounds…right? This is what was thought by desegregationists. Martin Luther King, Jr. was told that he should just wait, and in time, African Americans would receive their rights. King wrote this in response: “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”(King 51) King knew that if he didn’t fight, this wound wouldn’t be healed. He used historical evidence in order to prove his point. He said, “Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of te...


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...see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky;” He uses historical and biblical evidence to support his arguments. He organizes his arguments perfectly in order to persuade in the most effective way possible. King knew rhetoric. At the end of his letter, he finished up by showing his true reason for fighting his fight. He said, “If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less that brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail. Massachusetts: Heinle &Heinle, 2003.

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